First Preview of Arma Reforger: An early but promising return for a Milsim Great

Arma Reforger is still a work in progress. This point was repeatedly emphasized at a recent preview event hosted by developer Bohemia Interactive. Almost a decade has passed since the release of Arma 3, and while a formal sequel is still on the cards, the company is initially offering a smaller, stripped down version of its traditional warfare precision. The goal, says Bohemia, is for Reforger to be a “bridge” to Arma 4; Using the platform as a testing environment to measure community feedback throughout the rest of the development cycle. That makes a lot of sense considering Reforger and the future Arma 4 are both going to consoles for the first time in the series’ history. The studio now has to answer questions it never had to ask before. Can a gamepad harmonize with the complex logistics of a military simulator? Does the console audience even have an appetite for Arma’s many quirks? You can understand why Bohemia wanted to dip her toes in first before diving.

Arma Reforger is somewhat a reimagining of the first game in the series – Operation Flashpoint from 2001. A fictional Eastern European island from this game, Everon, has been fully remastered in Bohemia’s new Enfusion engine, and players will play as either Americans or as Soviets in the exasperating height of the Cold War of the late 1980s. I was granted access to a pre-release build that gave me a tutorial and a few multiplayer servers otherwise abandoned by other actual human players, and it was immediately clear that Bohemia’s graphical upgrade had paid off. Willows bloomed with dewy grass, trees lined the horizon on the impressive trail, glassy water lapped the banks. Bohemia mentioned that development was difficult for Reforger, probably because importing systems into brand new gaming infrastructure is always a challenge. But this new chapter of Arma is both beautiful and functional, and is in line with other triple-A shooters on the market.

ArmA Reforger – First screenshots

Reforger plans to keep Arma’s vibrant modding scene alive. The main menu contains a link to the Workshop, where players can upload their own custom creations directly to the game’s servers. Reforger also includes a new game mode called Game Master, which serves as a way to effectively guide an Arma multiplayer match through the ebb and flow of combat. (It sounds similar to a DM in Dungeons & Dragons.) This should be a boon for diehards in the series; Finally a chance to play around with Arma’s tools using modern technology.

Game Master is intended as a way to effectively guide an Arma multiplayer match through the ebb and flow of combat.

Some PC devotees might worry that Bohemia’s console pivot means the studio will push back on some of Arma’s trickier hardcore tics. I’m by no means a Milsim expert, but from what I’ve seen, those fears can safely be put to bed. Reforger retains both the restless shooting mechanics and overall management burden; You’ll definitely be hauling supplies to various checkpoints to build vehicle depots and armories, and this remains a waypoint-free experience. This means Xbox players will get very used to their compass and coordinates when triangulating exactly where enemy lines are.

But anyone shelling out the $29.99 for Reforger’s Early Access release should know that as of this writing, the game appears to be in the early stages of development — especially compared to how polished and content-rich it is previous games in the series are. Reforger so far has a gigantic map and only two modes. One is the Game Master suite of tools mentioned above, and the other is a capture-and-hold rigamarole, meaning Reforger is currently short on single-player content outside of the tutorial. Compare that to Arma 3, which released an expansion centered on a literal alien invasion three years ago. It’s becoming clear that Bohemia still has a long way to go before Reforger achieves feature parity with the rest of the series. (Right now, the studio says Reforger will be in Early Access for about a year, with frequent updates throughout the cycle.)

Unsurprisingly for an Early Access game in the works, I also encountered a number of bugs during my playthrough, including some psychedelic visual glitches and a bunch of crashes when trying to load into matches. Keep in mind that I’ve been playing on empty servers, so I can’t speak to stability with everyone stacking on Everon at once. I can only imagine that Bohemia is excited to see how their backend holds up.

From what I’ve seen, any concerns about Arma being “dumbed down” for consoles can safely be dispelled. Reforger retains both the restless shooting mechanics and overall management burden.

But hey, these are the growing pains of any intrepid new platform. New Arma games are treated like seismic events in the Milsim community, and Reforger – with its new engine and fresh debut on consoles – is considered one of the boldest ventures in Bohemian history. We’ll keep checking in while the war rages on. First Preview of Arma Reforger: An early but promising return for a Milsim Great

Fry Electronics Team

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